If you want to keep your files safe and in sync, GoodSync is a decent, if not great, option for doing so. Available in Mac OS X, iOS, Windows, and Android versions, it backs up and syncs music, photos, videos, email, text documents and more between desktops, laptops, servers, and external drives -- all without using cloud-based services.
GoodSync -- which costs $29.95 for a single computer license for Mac OS X (which is the version I’m reviewing here)— offers true bi-directional synchronization -- in other words, syncing flows both ways. This means changes to the files at either syncing location are mirrored at the other. Or you can do one-way syncing -- which, basically, is a back-up routine.
GoodSync's interface isn't flashy, but, once you get the hang of it, it's functional. It allows you to quit manually transferring and backing up your data. After configuring GoodSync and creating sync or backup profiles, the program runs itself and executes automatically. Setting up the software was somewhat confusing; the instructions could be, should be, clearer (they have a distinct Windows flavor) -- and that's our biggest complaint with GoodSync.
To create a new sync routine you specify the two locations you want to keep in sync, then determine how and when the sync should take place. One of the locations should be a folder or selection of files on your local hard disk; the second a remote location. You can also sync to a USB hard disk, and, from there, to a second computer.
Scheduled syncs and backups can be configured to run at whatever intervals work best for you. That's GoodSync's biggest strength. You can create different profiles, allowing you schedule syncs for your most important data every day and perhaps a more comprehensive back-up and sync at the end of each week.
Another nice touch: there are safety measures to make sure you don’t accidentally overwrite data or create duplicate files. For example, if you modify a file on an iMac and a MacBook, GoodSync doesn't overwrite either version, but logs the event as a conflict. Then it's up to you to manually combine the files however you wish.
Note that GoodSync does have issues with some apps. Outlook, Outlook Express, Windows Mail, Thunderbird, QuickBooks, Quicken, etc., store data in a database. So many (hundreds, even thousands) logical units (such as individual email, contact, or calendar entry) will be stuffed into a single database file.
GoodSync doesn’t understand internal structure of all these database files, so the utility can sync the whole database files, but not individual logical units stored inside these files.
This means that GoodSync can’t sync two database files on Left (say, the iMac) and Right (say, the MacBook) if both file were modified. Not seeing the internal structure of these files GoodSync will declare a conflict, as it sees two files both of which have changed.But if database files have changed only on one side then GoodSync can sync just fine.